| GEO Business|
| Oil prices mixed after cut in energy demand forecast|
| Updated at: 0433 PST, Friday, May 15, 2009|
NEW YORK: Oil futures ended mixed Thursday as a cautious market digested news of a cut in energy demand forecast by the International Energy Agency amid the global economic downturn.
Prices in early trading were down from recent six-month peaks but those in New York firmed up slightly in line with higher US share prices while Brent prices remained weak.
New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, rose 60 cents from Wednesday to close at 58.62 dollars a barrel.
Traders eyed the stock market, which swung higher amid a renewed glimmer of economic optimism, and digested data from this week showing a surprise drop in petroleum inventories.
"The inventories were quite bullish yesterday but the market sold off on the stock market selling off. Traders are trying to recover the loss from yesterday," said Ellis Eckland, an independent analyst.
"Crude oil had to close the gap because stock market has rebounded significantly and the dollar is falling," Eckland said.
Brent North Sea crude prices for June fell 65 cents to end at 56.69 dollars in London.
The market was cautious after the IEA forecast a drop in global oil demand to a 28-year low, saying optimism about an economic recovery was not reviving appetite for energy.
The agency further trimmed its forecast for 2009, which it estimated at 83.2 million barrels per day (bpd), three percent lower than last year, "and the sharpest single year's fall since 1981," in its monthly oil market report.